11 December 2001
News - Tourism (Good)
Buzz Aldrin Addresses US Aerospace Commission
Urges gov't to target passenger space travel
by Patrick Collins
The Presidential Commission on the Future of the US Aerospace Industry was established by President Bush to make recommendations to solve a range of problems facing the industry. These problems, from overspending to failed projects, have arose partly from its decline since the end of the cold war and partly from stagnation at Nasa.

The Commission held its first hearing on November 27. Buzz Aldrin, who is himself one of the Commissioners, presented the first testimony. He chose to argue the case for the importance of developing "high volume human space transportation."

Buzz used the analogy of the Boeing 707, originally developed as a military tanker. However it gained world-wide success as the first mass-produced jet airliner and subsequently launched mass international travel. (It also led to the now-quaint phrase "the jet set," referring to the small number of people who were rich enough to fly.)

Buzz even used ‘the T word’ to refer to one of the major uses of a reusable vehicle. He used his own history to exemplify the potential of ‘vision’ to achieve what some people claim is difficult. For a more detailed commentary on the meeting click here.

The journalist Frank Sietzen referred to Bush’s “anger” about the federal agencies and predicted a “…historic realignment that may redefine what constitutes a space agency…” and a “…tidal wave of change about to wash over clueless Washington” for which he sees Sean O’Keefe, the probable future Nasa administrator, as the agent of change. Provided that this change is not just an extension of military influence over Nasa, this should be beneficial.

However, one problem in achieving this was punctuated by the fact that the meeting was only sparsely attended: Most of the public have learned that space is ‘boring’ and certainly does not include them. But without public support and enthusiasm, federal support for a reusable passenger vehicle is surely unlikely.
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Patrick Collins 11 December 2001
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